A woman has been banned from keeping horses for two years after being found guilty of causing suffering to a grey thoroughbred gelding.

Heather Betts, 44, of Hills Lane, Knatts Valley, Kent, appeared before Maidstone Magistrates’ Court last Tuesday (14 October). She was charged with animal welfare offences.

As well as the ban, Ms Betts was made to pay £5,000 costs, received a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for two years, and a six-month supervision order.

The RSPCA was called in February 2013 after receiving a complaint from a member of the public about the horse’s welfare.

The horse, kept at Hartley Grange, was found to be badly underweight with a body score of 0.5 out of 5 — classifying him as emaciated.

The vet examined the horse, called Tomboy, and recommended to the police he was taken away from his owner and placed into RSPCA care.

RSPCA inspector Andrew Kirby said: “Tomboy was in a terrible state when we arrived. He was extremely underweight with no food available to him.”

After eight weeks in the charity’s care Tomboy had put on 90kg, which is around 20% of his body weight.

“The vet said this was remarkable to put on so much weight in such a short space of time. This was another case of someone who took on the care of a horse she just wasn’t able to provide for,” said Mr Kirby.

“It is vital all prospective owners remember that it is a responsibility and a privilege – and they need to think hard before taking any pet into their care to ensure they can provide for their needs for their lifetime.”